I love wine. Perhaps too much! My evening ritual often includes a glass of wine or two. Some evenings, that glass might be a touch fuller than average. 😉
But as much as I love wine, I look forward to my annual ritual of forgoing all alcohol for January. The timing is always perfect because it follows the inevitable binge of the holiday season, so climbing on the wagon is a welcome respite … in fact, it’s more like an annual cleansing.
But this annual cleansing is not without its challenges. Foregoing all forms of alcohol for a whole month requires a modicum of self-discipline. After all, a perfectly barbecued steak with an accompanying can of Fresca isn’t the same.
Now I realize that in the big scheme of things, I must sound like a pathetic, spoiled brat with my first-world problems (and that I can’t deny), which is probably why I can honestly say that over the years I’ve practiced Dry January, I found this 31-days of abstinence to be just the thing I needed for several reasons; it’s a beautiful reminder of not only how lucky I am, but it’s also a first-hand reminder of how easy it is to acquire a habit and how diligent I have to be to overcome it.
The first day, January 1, is always effortless because, inevitably, I’m nursing some “results” from the night before. January 2, 3 and even 4 require some discipline, especially if my wife (who happens to be a gourmet cook) puts something like a cedar-planked salmon steak with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio on the table. However, by day 5, I’m no longer bothered by anything because my annual Dry January is non-negotiable.
In the past eight years of practicing Dry January, I can honestly say I’ve never succumbed to temptation, and I think it’s because I never entertained the possibility. If I ever did cave, I couldn’t imagine how disappointed I would be with myself, so I push all temptation out of my mind.
As I said earlier, as trite and pathetic sounding as my little temptations are, and they really are, the benefits of going 31 days without a sip of alcohol are always so welcome and refreshing that come February 1, I inevitably entertain the thought of giving up alcohol forever, because invariably at the end of every January, I always feel so much better both mentally and physically, but more than anything else I love the indescribable feeling of having initiated a little self-control.
If you’re interested in joining the annual Dry January Club, let me give you a quick tour of some of the many advantages I experience during my month of abstinence:
- You’ll inevitably wake up with more energy and vitality than you may have thought possible. I think that happens for two reasons; one, you sleep better and much deeper, and two, your body requires a shit-ton of energy to metabolize alcohol, so instead of wasting all that energy on a senseless task, it invests all the excess energy in cellular rejuvenation and restoration.
- Your memory is just better. I stop telling the same story twice, and I remember who-dun-it when I think about the murder mystery I watched the night before.
- You’ll go to parties and be startled by the effects a few drinks can have on OTHER people, which is always a not-too-subtle reminder of what I must be like when I’m drinking.
- I think my overall demeanour and attitude about life, in general, is a little more laid back, more even-keeled and perhaps even a bit more optimistic.
- And another thing, if you take on Dry January, you’ll become acutely aware of the calories in alcohol … because I assure you you’ll shed fat … effortlessly!
- And finally, when you do start drinking again (and you probably will), you’ll appreciate having that single glass of wine with dinner … and the appreciation that less is more can sometimes last for weeks!
Since it’s been 11 whole months since last February 1, I’ve probably forgotten a bunch of other advantages to Dry January. In fact, now that I look at all the advantages I get from abstinence, maybe I need to rethink why I would want to discontinue all these benefits.
They say that wisdom comes with age, and since I’m well into my 60s, maybe it’s time to apply a little something I’ve learned over the years of practicing dry January, which is this; I really like drinking, but the truth is, I think I like not drinking even more! Hmm, maybe wisdom really does come with age!
As for 2023, welcome, welcome, welcome. Cheers to you and to a fantastic 2023!